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Marxist postmodern theory and interpretation of

contemporary cultural trends, Jameson is best

known for his Postmodernism or the Cultural Logic of

Late Capitalism (1991), and his broad, innovative,

and radical cultural criticism, especially The Cultural

Turn (1998). Postmodernism, according to

Jameson, represents a new mode of representation,

life experience, and aesthetic sensitivity, all

of which reflect the latest stage of capitalist development.

The key features of this stage, which

evolved out of market capitalism of the nineteenth

century and monopoly capitalism of the

early twentieth century, are the global division

of labor, intensified consumption, especially consumption

of images, a proliferation of the massmedia,

and an increasing saturation of society

with information technology. Above all, late capitalism

integrates aesthetic production into general

commodity production, thus intensifying mass

consumption of ever more novel goods. Jameson

identifies the features of postmodern cultural configuration,

a new “mode of production” in late

capitalism, as including the blurring of distinction

between popular/commercial and highbrow/

classic culture; the weakening of the historical

dimension with the emphasis on current experience

(here and now), and the organization of

space (most conspicuous in contemporary architecture);

the spread of electronically reproduced

images (“the simulacra” in Jean-Franc¸ois Lyotard’s

terms); a wide use of pastiche; and a decline in

affectivity that reduces the need for emotional

engagement in cultural consumption. In his quest

for the “cognitive mapping” of contemporary

culture in relation to late capitalist economy and

society. Jameson links postmodernity with the

popular ethos, lifestyle, and mentality of “the

yuppies,” the young segments of a professional–

managerial class, and with a new wave of American

economic, cultural, and military domination.



The question “What is justice?” is at the center of

political philosophy but not at the center of

sociology. Famously raised by Plato in The Republic,

it is a question which sociologists deal with in an

anti-Platonic fashion. Plato analyzes justice with


respect to the soul. His work is organized around

an analogy between the city and the soul, suggesting

that a proper understanding of justice requires

a philosopher to transcend the narrow

boundaries of society, portrayed as a cave, an obscure

place where little can be understood: for

Plato, the truly just can be grasped only in the

light of the eternal, beyond the social here and

now. Sociologists aim to start not from beyond the

cave but, most emphatically, from within the cave

itself: when they do study the question of justice

in itself, they aim to do so by giving morally detached

accounts of the notions of justice held in

particular societies. In the preface of his Injustice.

The Social Bases of Obedience and Revolt (1978), Barrington

Moore notes that, for a while, he thought

of calling his book “a study of moral outrage”; but

he adds that, after all, “moral outrage suggests too

strongly the agonies of intellectuals trying to interpret,

judge, and change the world.” Sociologists

offer descriptions and analysis of existing ideologies

rather than a normative “theory of justice,”

an analysis given in terms of values, of ideology,

of history, of context. Such accounts of justice

often depend on or express historicism and/or


This is why, in spite of acknowledging Montesquieu’s

role as a founder of sociology, E´ mile Durkheim

criticizes him for remaining too much of a

political philosopher. Montesquieu treats despotic

or tyrannical regimes as anomalous, but Durkheim

argues in Montesquieu and Rousseau, Forerunners

of Sociology (1892 [trans. 1960]) that, from a

scientific point of view, every regime must be

treated as having its own perfect form. The injustice

inherent in a despotic regime does not or

should not matter from the politically neutral

point of view of a sociologist. Considered as a

unified enterprise, sociology offers an alternative

to political philosophy, an analysis of the human

condition which does not start from the political

question of justice.

The main reason why sociology tends not to

address the question of justice directly goes back

to its origins. Sociology was born as a result of the

eighteenth-century separation between state and

civil society. Originally, sociology took as its

proper object civil society, aiming to treat this

independently from the activities of the state; in

this sense, sociology began with a critique of the

primacy of the political. It aimed to show that

societies obey laws or belong to types that can be

described and understood without reference to

laws (see law and society) enforced by the state.

However, this very critique of the primacy of the

political has political consequences, and bears on

the understanding of the question of justice.

In this respect, Durkheim’s focus on Montesquieu’s

legacy is significant. Montesquieu distinguishes

law and mores (see norm[s]), developing

an account of the autonomy of mores, of the complexity

of social phenomena, of a “spirit” of laws

that is required to avoid despotism and injustice.

To the extent to which Montesquieu can be

counted among the founders of sociology, he

founds it because he thinks that it will be politically

useful. Sociology is the science which, in the

hands of rulers and lawyers, should foster political

moderation through an understanding of the

comparative narrowness of the political category

and of the resilience and relative autonomy of

social phenomena. A ruler cannot make any law,

and become a tyrant: he needs to take into account

the “spirit” of the laws – that is, the sociology

of law. Besides, a proper understanding of

the autonomy of mores paves the way for a proper

account of the balance of powers, that is the balance

between the state and the representatives of

civil society in dealing with the state. From this

liberal point of view, an insistence on the limits

of the political sphere helps to protect civil rights

and minimize injustice. At the other end of the

political spectrum, Karl Marx’s theory offers a

good example of sociology put in the service not

of political moderation but of revolution. Marx’s

sociology is built around a critique of the category

of the political in the name of the primacy of the

economy. The state and its laws are denounced as

instruments of the bourgeoisie, developed for the

oppression of the proletariat. Although Marx plays

on the demand for justice, on a revolt against the

fate of the poor in the context of the industrial

revolution, he remains faithful to the sociological

critique of the category of justice, which he tries

to avoid as overly ideological.


justice justice



Keynes, John Maynard (1883–1946)

One of the leading economists of the twentieth

century, Keynes held academic positions at the

University of Cambridge and also worked from

time to time within the British civil service. His

significance lies both in his contribution to economic

theory and in his influence on public policy.

Keynes’s major work is The General Theory of Employment,

Interest, and Money (1935). Writing in the

context of global economic depression and mass

unemployment, Keynes rejected the prevailing assumption

that economic recovery could be left to

market forces. In the orthodox view, markets were

seen as creating and recreating equilibria through

changes in the demand for and supply of goods

and services. Keynes argued that, under certain

conditions, the market search for equilibrium

was incapable of resolving depression and alleviating

unemployment. If aggregated demand was

low, then depression would remain endemic. In

such circumstances, one should look to government

action in the form of public spending,

rather than market forces, to create economic


This theoretical insight had a significant impact

on public policy from the 1930s until the 1980s.

Government demand management became a

pillar of Western economic policy, and the basis

for welfare states and national economic planning.

Under the impact of Keynesian economics,

social programs to promote welfare had an economic

as well as a social rationale. In addition to

this emphasis on the Keynesian welfare state and

Social Keynesianism, Keynes strongly influenced

the architecture of global economic recovery after

World War II. Institutions such as the International

Monetary Fund and the World Bank originated

in the Bretton Woods conference of 1944

which Keynes attended. They were designed, in

large measure, to provide an interventionist

framework at the international level, to parallel

national economic policy initiatives.

Keynesian approaches fell out of favor from the

1970s. This occurred in part through the simultaneous

onset of inflation and stagnation (stagflation),

not anticipated in Keynes’s theoretical framework,

and in part because demand management

neglected supply-side reforms of labor markets

and public-sector efficiency. Deregulation and

the rolling back of state activity were more widely

advocated as means of optimizing national competitiveness

and reaping the benefits of globalization.

The Washington consensus on neoliberal

economic policy rather than Keynesianism has

dominated the Bretton Woods institutions since

the mid-1980s, though this has been challenged

very recently by Joseph Stiglitz and George Soros,

who argue for a return, if not to Keynesianism,

then at least to a more interventionist approach to

market failure and instability. BOB HOLTON

Keynesian welfare state

– see John Maynard Keynes.

Khaldun, Ibn (1332–1406)

A Muslim social philosopher who is often described

as “the father of sociology,” Khaldun was

born in Tunisia into an upper-class Andalusian

family, the Banu Khaldun. He traced his ancestry

back through an Arabic-Yemeni tribe from

Hadhramaut. He lived at various times in Spain,

Tunisia, and Egypt, where he died, in Cairo,

shortly after becoming an lslamic judge or qadi.

His work concerned the social and political

determinants of the rise and fall of civilizations.

His sociological theory was presented in The

Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History (1958). This

“prolegomena” to world history was composed

around 1375 when he had withdrawn from politics.

This prolegomena concerns the circulation of

elites between town and desert in North Africa.

The town elites over time grow lazy, rich, and

corrupt, while tribal elites remain disciplined

and enjoy greater social integration or solidarity.

This greater social unity allows them periodically

to replace town elites, but in turn they become

corrupt, and are replaced by fresh elites. This

Khaldunian theory of social and political change

was used to great effect by Ernest Gellner in


Muslim Society (1981) to explain different forms of

Islam (puritanical and egalitarian versus mystical

and hierarchical) in relation to political change,

for example in Morocco. The development of

modern communications technology, especially

the telegraph, telephone, and radio, eventually

gave urban elites a military advantage over the

countryside, and the ancient political oscillation

was transformed. Radical reform movements in

Islam such as the fundamentalist Wahhabi movement,

which was inspired by Muhammad b. Abdal-

Wahhab (died 1791), are often said to exhibit

the social changes that were originally described

by Ibn Khaldun’s sociology. Muslim intellectuals

often complain that most histories of sociology

neglect Ibn Khaldun, because they are written

within the framework of Orientalism.



Socially universal, this is probably the most basic

of institutional modalities of human organization.

Anthropology has consistently treated kinship

as its special theoretical preserve, and its

preoccupations with kinship have consistently

focused on three overlapping thematic issues.

One of these is typological. From Lewis Henry

Morgan’s Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity in

the Human Family (1871) onward, the field of kinship

studies has preserved the distinction between

classificatory (or “merging”) kinship terminologies,

which assign a general rubric to relatives of

differing genealogical distance from any given

ego, and descriptive terminologies, which in their

most expansive versions provide each relative

with a rubric of his or her own. Morgan’s efforts

have given way to the distinction among six terminological

schemas, from the expansively classificatory

Hawaiian to the meticulously descriptive


Another thematic focus has rested on the question

of the generative principle of kinship. Its star

curiosity is the taboo against incest. Claude Le´vi-

Strauss underscores the taboo’s proscription of

marriage within the elemental family group in

arguing that kinship systems are before all else

not systems of descent but of intergroup alliance.

A final focus falls on the substantive ground of

kinship. David Schneider’s Critique (1984) of the

naturalism of even the most ardently conventionalist

theories of kinship has not discouraged every

psychoanalyst or sociobiologist since, but it has

inspired a new effort to establish the grounds of

kinship in strictly socio-cultural phenomena.

Leading contenders include the symbolization of

fertility, the articulation of domesticity, and the

dynamics of self-formation. J AMES D. FAUBI ON

Komarovsky, Mirra (1905–1986)

Born in Baku in the Caucasus, Komarovsky emigrated

to the United States in 1922 and attended

Barnard College in New York where she was

taught by Franz Boas, Ruth Benedict, and William

Ogburn. She became a research assistant on the

Westchester Leisure Project (1931–3) that resulted

in George L. Lundberg, Mary M. McInerny, and

Komarovsky’s Leisure, A Suburban Study (1934).

From 1934 to 1936 she was a research associate

at the International Institute for Social Research,

directed by Paul Lazarsfeld, and on the basis of

that work she published her PhD thesis in 1940 on

The Unemployed Man and his Family, with an introduction

by Lazarsfeld. Komarovsky became an associate

professor (1948–53) and later full professor

(1954–70). She was influential in the development

of the sociology of gender, through articles such

as “Cultural Contradictions and Sex Roles,” in the

American Journal of Sociology (1946), and “Functional

Analysis of Sex Roles,” in the American Sociological

Review (1950). Her books, such as Dilemmas of Masculinity

(1976) and Blue-Collar Marriage (1964), were

highly influential. Her works on social class criticized

American sociologists for neglecting the

working class and for applying generalizations

from the middle class to blue-collar families. The

principal theoretical focus of her empirical work –

inconsistencies in social roles – was influenced by

Robert Merton’s role theory and William Ogburn’s

concept of social lag. She had three scientific objectives,

namely to understand the functional significance

of sex roles, to locate their cultural

contradictions, and to assess the possibilities of

social change. Her monograph on unemployed

men has also been recognized for its methodological

contribution to the use of personal documents.

She made important contributions to

feminist theory in Women in the Modern World

(1953) and Women in College (1985). She was the

second female President of the American Sociological

Association (1972–3); her presidential address

that year was, suitably, on “Some Problems

in Role Analysis.” BRYAN S. TURNER

Kristeva, Julia (1941– )

Born in Bulgaria, Kristeva has spent her life in

France since 1965. She is best known for the distinction

that she makes between what she calls

the “semiotic” and the “symbolic,” and for her

assertion of the centrality of the mother (see

kinship Kristeva, Julia (1941– )


motherhood/mothers) in human biography and

the social world. Kristeva defines the “semiotic”

in terms of the drives and rhythms of the human

body, and in particular the maternal body. The

“symbolic,” on the other hand, is the frame of

reference that we use to make sense of our experience.

The “symbolic” and the “semiotic” combine

to produce signification, and it is Kristeva’s contention

that the structure of signification comes

from what she describes as maternal regulation.

In emphasizing the place of the mother in both

the individual and the social world, Kristeva

follows Melanie Klein (1882–1960). She takes the

centrality of the mother forward in her texts

Powers of Horror (1980) and Black Sun (1987) to

argue that, within patriarchal cultures, the

mother, and maternity, are subject to what she

describes as “abjection,” a form of subjectivity in

which women become depressed and develop a

depressed sexuality. In order to change the

degradation of the feminine, Kristeva does not

propose ideas of universal equality, nor the

development of a specific female language and

culture. Kristeva validates what she sees as multiple

possible sexualities and a recognition within

cultures that there is a need to heal what she

describes as wounded narcissism. One of the characteristics

of Kristeva’s work is the links she

makes between psychoanalysis and the social

world: for example, Strangers to Ourselves (1992)

considers some of the reasons for racism and the

fear of other cultures. MARY EVANS

Kuhn, Thomas Samuel (1922–1996)

An American historian and philosopher of science,

Thomas Kuhn was an undergraduate and graduate

student in physics at Harvard, where he came

under the influence of the university’s powerful

president, James B. Conant, who was himself a

physical chemist as well as a member of a small

group of politically important scientists. Conant

had a strong concern for undergraduate science

education. His new strategy was based on the

popular Harvard method of the case study that

focused on historical cases of far-reaching conceptual

changes in scientific disciplines. Kuhn began

teaching this course and was asked to develop

his own historical research. After a few years at

Harvard, he took up a teaching position at Berkeley

where he turned this study into his first book,

The Copernican Revolution (1957), and worked on The

Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), a summary

and overview of far-reaching conceptual changes

in science.

The book proved difficult to publish but was

eventually accepted in the logical positivist International

Encyclopedia of Unified Science (1955). It was

also published as a separate volume and became

one of the best-selling scholarly books of all time

and was the most frequently cited book in the late

twentieth century. Kuhn’s key term paradigm

passed into common usage. Kuhn did not develop

the implications of his argument for the social

sciences and was shocked by some of the sociological

interpretations of the text. He spent much

of the rest of his life responding to issues concerning

incommensurability and meaning-change in


Kymlicka, Will (dates not known)

Professor of Philosophy at Queens University,

Ontario, Canada, and recurrent Visiting Professor

in the Nationalism Studies program at the Central

European University in Budapest, Kymlicka has

contributed extensively to the analysis of citizenship,

ethnic minorities, and cultural rights in liberal

democracies. His most influential publication

in this field was Multicultural Citizenship (1995). His

principal argument is that modern democracies

have sought to accommodate national and ethnic

differences under the broad umbrella of multiculturalism

through the creation of “group-differentiated

rights.” He identified three forms of these

rights. First, self-government rights recognize

some degree of self-determination, for example

through federalism. Secondly, polyethnic rights

recognize the entitlement of minorities to practice

their own customs, religion, and language,

such as the in-principle right of Muslim girls to

wear the headscarf in secular schools. Finally,

there are special representation rights, which

would give representation to minorities, for

example by allocating a certain number of seats

to them in representative chambers (of parliament).

Kymlicka’s arguments are controversial because

he claims that these group rights are

perfectly compatible with the individualistic

rights of liberalism. His other publications include

Politics in the Vernacular: Nationalism, Multiculturalism

and Citizenship (2001), and Contemporary Political

Philosophy (2002). He has co-edited Kymlicka and

Wayne Norman (eds.), Citizenship in Diverse Societies

(2000) and Kymlicka and Magda Opalski (eds.), Can

Liberal Pluralism be Exported? (2001).


Kuhn, Thomas Samuel (1922–1996) Kymlicka, Will (dates not known)



labeling theory

Labeling represents not a single sociological

theory, but a number of different ideas relating

to the notion that no behavior is deviant or criminal

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